Tribes of Oklahoma

Some interesting history  I have picked up along the road…….

Welcome back. Living in northeast Oklahoma I am always looking for stories that might fall through the cracks in terms of mainstream media reporting and also in hopes of bringing you a fresh perspective very week so here we go.

Oklahoma is home to 39 tribal nations which according to the Oklahoma Indian Country Guide means that there are more different languages spoken here than in all of Europe. In this area we are all familiar with tribes such as the Osage, Cherokee and Delaware and many of you may also be members of one of these nations. However there are many other tribes we may not be aware of such as the Kituwah who have 14,300 members or the Modoc whose chief Captain Jack was the only Indian in American history to be tried by a military commission for war crimes and executed.

The Tonkawa tribe which is headquartered outside of Ponca City is another small group of 600 but once the tribe was made up of many small bands who were considered some of the most warlike on the plains by both the early Spanish explorers and the first American settlers. Stroud, Oklahoma is home to the 3,600 member Sac& Fox nation whose 1832 battle with US infantry men resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of unarmed Indian women and children while they were crossing the Mississippi River in retreat. The Sac& Fox also count among their members the man whom the King of Sweden called the greatest athlete of modern times during the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, Jim Thorpe.

Other small tribes in Oklahoma include the Euchee tribe with 240 members, the Kialegee with 439 and the Kickapoo with 2,713 who were the first Indians to encounter Lewis & Clark after the expedition left St. Louis in 1802.

Oklahoma is rich in Indian history and if you want to learn more there are many great museums to explore around the state. The Cherokee Strip Museum in Alva is a good place to start as is the Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum in Woodward.  At the Museum of the Red River they have a large display of both Indian artifacts and dinosaur bones from the area.

In northeastern Oklahoma there’s the Osage Tribal Museum, the Webbers Falls Museum, the Creek Council House Museum and a dozen others.

There are also around 80 tribal casinos in Oklahoma including the Riverwind near Norman run by the Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaws’ casino in Durant. The Osage Tribe operates seven casinos in Osage County, claiming they occupy the only federally recognized reservation in Oklahoma.

If you’re thinking about a road trip, there are dozens of historical sites around the state and I’ve been to several. At Fort Reno in western Oklahoma many of the original structures are still intact and the cemetery there has a story of its own as several German pows from World War II are buried there. The Jim Thorpe home is another neat place as is Chief Lookout’s memorial and gravesite on Lookout Mountain east of Pawhuska. Two of my favorite places, Woolaroc and Gilgrease Museum have large collections of Indian art and artifacts right in our backyard.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……